Daytrip to Ullapool

I tagged along with Jane and her weekly art group on their “grand day out” to Ullapool today. We had a brilliant day out and mooched around the shops and galleries, sat in the hot (yes, hot!) sun and drank tea, coffee and cold beer.

Our main purpose for going was to visit Kittie Jones’s exhibition that was on at the Ceilidh Place and to see Kittie give her artist’s talk during the afternoon. The talk was great and we had the opportunity afterwards to have a look through Kittie’s sketchbooks.

I took half an hour before the talk to do a sketch of The Ceilidh Place

Hebridean Imaging art and photography outer hebrides

Seabird Drawing with the SWLA

I now have a week and a bit to catch up on things before heading off to the mainland on the 16th June for the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) Seabird Drawing. I’ll be based at Aberlady Bay and am looking forward to working with some of my very favourite artists: Kittie Jones, Greg Poole, Darren Woodhead and Kim Atkinson. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about going on this course (excited and terrified at the same time haha!). It will be a very intensive week as there will probably be 8 hours a day in the field and then evening sessions back at base but I know that I will learn a massive amount.

So, watch this space for how I get along, I hope to upload some of my field sketches and photos from the trip – hopefully the sea will be calm for the trip out to the Bass Rock!


This is a challenge that was started in 2013 by artist Jean Stevens – last year she had over 200 official participants. This year it is being run again. There isn’t much to it – just draw every single day during the month of August! #DrawingAugust is run primarily via Twitter, Jean is @JeanStevens4 and her website with more information about the challenge is: I made a Twitter account for participating @YvonnesSketches but there were also some of my fellow OCA students who wanted to participate but couldn’t/didn’t want to use Twitter so they started a Facebook Group for posting the daily drawings to, it’s called #DrawingAugust2014 and can be found at: I have compiled the 31 drawings into a YouTube slide show:-

Sketchbook Skool – Beginnings – Week 6

I’ve been waiting with baited breath for the final week of Beginnings, tutored by the amazing and totally whacky Tommy Kane – his videos, as expected, were full of great advice and wise words. Tommy can spend up to 10 hours on a single sketch – crazy! Our homework for the class was to draw our own kitchen – choose a really complex part of the room and go for it. Tommy Kane Illustration Tommy Kane’s Blog I took a couple of days over the drawing and the eventual painting with watercolours and a small addition (as per Tommy) of coloured pencil – probably a total of about 3 to 4 hours. I hadn’t expected to draw past the corner on the right hand side – my original plan was to draw from the oven to the corner. Once I turned the corner everything went to pot and my perspective was way out. My corner plate rack is not actually in the corner and it looks like an elephant trod on my toaster it’s so flat! But I was partly impressed with the final result, wonky and quirky as it is. Every single item is included, every bottle, every cup, every plate. It was very absorbing, even when I was adding the watercolour. So absorbing in fact that I took a swig of my brush-washing water that was in a mug next to my cup of coffee! Bleeuurrgh!! Tommy has a number of rules that he follows when doing detailed drawings like this that I will adopt:-

  • Draw in slow motion and really look
  • Once the pen hits the paper finish the drawing!

And what did the great man himself have to say about my kitchen drawing?

Yvonne, you have made a gorgeous little masterpiece. Your line work is so delicate and perfect. Your watercolor work is spot on. Your work has great personality to it. I even love the texture of the paper you use. You should be very proud of what you did.


Sketchbook Skool Homework - Tommy Kane
Sketchbook Skool Homework – Tommy Kane


Sketchbook Skool – Beginnings – Week 4

The teacher this week for Beginnings was Jane LaFazio and in her demo she showed us the process that she goes through – how she selects what she wanted to draw, doing a rough pencil sketch then adding pen and finally watercolour. Jane loves to work in mixed media, including stitchwork and she talked us through some of her sketchbooks. Our homework was to create a grid drawing. Jane suggested fruit or vegetables but we’d had a beautiful sunny day and there were a lot of butterflies in the garden, especially on the Buddleia which is fully in flower (and unlikely to stay that way here – the wind and the salty air soon knocks the blooms down).

Sketchbook skool jane la fazio

I drew the 9 x 9 grid first then pencilled in the basic shapes of what I wanted to draw. Once i’d done that I used a fine line pen and added colour using Inktense Pencils. Jane had suggested using black for the grid but I thought that would be too harsh and detract from the flower and butterflies so I used some diluted watercolour. I used this drawing for the #DrawingAugust Challenge too. My mum has already asked me if she can have it to put on her wall…

Sketchbook Skool – Seeing – Week 5

The tutor for week five of Seeing was the totally incredible Andrea Joseph – what that girl can do with a ballpoint pen is truly amazing! Andrea’s Blog Andrea’s Flickr Andrea’s Etsy Shop Andrea is one of the few British tutors on the course and was very generous in her advice and teaching, lots of video demos and she went through some of her sketchbooks too. The first homework was a lettering piece – we had to choose a quote that we liked and write it out. I chose this one by Camille Pissaro.

Next we had to find some objects of the same colour and then draw them in a ballpoint pen of that colour (red objects, use red pen etc.). As I could only find a blue ballpoint pen in the whole of the house that’s what I went for…

Lastly Andrea demonstrated drawing a collection of items and set us the task of drawing a collection of our own – in ballpoint pen of course. I had a bag of buttons that had come from my late mother-in-law’s house so I chose them.

I really enjoyed this homework and indeed the whole week. I don’t think that I’ll be making a habit of doing drawings with ballpoint pen – Andrea made it look way easier than it really is. I guess with practice it would become easier – I found myself pressing too hard occasionally – in Andrea’s video she used very very light, soft strokes when doing the cross-hatching and this is where I found the difficulty – I felt very clumsy. My favourite button to draw and the one that turned out pretty good was the large round, leather-covered button. Sadly week 6 will be the final week of Sketchbook Skool for this semester 🙁 but i’m looking forward very much to it, Liz Steele is leading the last class!

Sketchbook Skool – Seeing – Week 4

The very first online courses that I participated in were by Cathy Johnson so I was looking forward to learning a whole lot more from this lovely lady, especially as a lot of her drawing is bird and nature orientated. Cathy Johnson’s website Cathy Johnson’s blog Cathy demonstrated techniques for sketching birds – both from life and using photographs – then homework was to do our own bird sketch. I chose a House Sparrow, it turned out OK(ish) it was a little bit out of shape. Maybe i’m just picky when it comes to bird art – I think it stems from knowing birds so well. Anyway here is my homework, followed by some links to a couple of great bird artists.

House Sparrow…

My Lapwing turned out a little better


Both of these birds were drawn from my own photographs. Part 2 of Cathy’s homework was to upload a page from our nature journal. I submitted my seaweed page


I love the lovely loose watercolour work of wildlife artist Darren Woodhead, I first saw his work at the UK Bird Fair in 2011, held annually at Rutland Water. Darren is based in Scotland and his website is: Another artist I greatly admire is The Artist that I mention now and again who lives next door. Bill Neill has lived here in the Hebrides for over 30 years and is an amazing all round naturalist. He uses mainly watercolour but sometimes acrylics. Bill’s website is:  Books I recommend for drawing birds:-

  • John Busby, Drawing Birds – An RSPB Guide
  • John Muir Laws, The Law’s Guide to Drawing Birds